Spring Cleaning Greened!


Isn’t it funny how a lot of us grew up with the idea that a ‘clean’ house smelled like a bunch of toxic chemicals? Since my grandma who raised me had a mild version of MCS (that’s multiple chemical sensitivity), I remember her making her own all-natural (not to mention cheap!) cleaners, but my school and friends’ homes always smelled like PineSol, Windex and bleach.

I ended up thinking that my family was a bit weird (OK, we definitely are, but still) but now, I only use ecofriendly cleaners for both my health and the planet’s. Every time you breathe that stuff in, your body has to process more toxins, and every time you wash it down the drain, it goes into our shared water supplies- both our own drinking water and into aquatic animals’ habitats!

So this year, when you’re getting ready for Spring cleaning, think about how you can green it. If you’re a green cleaning newbie (or know someone who is), I recommend Clorox’s new Green Works line. I received some samples of it, and they work exactly like toxic cleaning products, so you won’t feel like you’re making such an extreme change. I’m not a huge fan of the Clorox company in general (until they take toxics out of ALL their products they’re still contributing to environmental degradation), BUT some people freak out at the thought of cleaning using just baking soda and vinegar, so it’s a good transitional option. My very favorite cleaning products are pricey but worth it. Mrs. Meyer’s are not only all-natural and toxin-free, they work great AND smell fan-freaking-tastic since they are made with aromatherapy oils- my fave is geranium. Heather’s products are great too!

Or maybe a party is a good way to get into the green- and meet other cleaning enthusiasts (Cleanfreaks unite!! Just kidding. Sorta.) Women’s Voices for the Earth is a national, nonprofit organization working to get toxins out of our environment, recognizing that they disproportionately affect women’s and children’s bodies:

To celebrate the first day of spring, Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) is encouraging women and men across the country to host a green cleaning party!

What is a green cleaning party? These fun parties are a great way for you and your friends to learn how to make non-toxic cleaners from common ingredients like vinegar, baking soda and olive oil – ingredients time-tested for effectiveness!. Sign up to host party, and WVE will send you all the information you need (including recipe cards, supply lists, and an informational DVD) to make your party a success.

Why make your own cleaners? A growing body of evidence suggests that chemicals in some conventional cleaners may cause harm to your health. And because cleaning manufacturers are not required to list all ingredients on their product labels, you have no way of knowing what chemicals are in products, and therefore, how to avoid them. The best solution is to make your own!

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.